One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding the Michigan State basketball team is that it doesn’t like to play up-tempo.

Plodding, 50-point Big Ten games are often cited as evidence, but that’s simply not Michigan State’s style. Coach Tom Izzo wants to run, and in Thursday’s second round of the NCAA Tournament, he might have found a willing partner.

“They’ve really been pushing the ball up the court,” said Monte Ross, who leads Delaware, winner of the Colonial Athletic Association’s regular-season and tournament titles, against Michigan State. “And we like to push the ball up the court. So I think that will lend to a free-flowing game going up and down, which quite frankly is OK with us.”

The Blue Hens can put up points, and they’ve proven it against some decent competition. Delaware had close road losses to Ohio State, Villanova and Notre Dame, and employs a four-guard rotation Harris learned as an assistant at Saint Joseph’s.

“Our ’04 team that went to the Elite Eight, we played four guards the majority of the game,” Ross said. “When I look at our team this year, I knew the best way for us to win, our most firepower was when we have four guards on the court. And that’s what we do. A lot of it, if not all of it, is derived from my time at Saint Joe’s because we had such success with it. Being able to spread the court and dribble drive.”

Delaware certainly has the players to run that type of attack.

* Senior Devon Saddler is a 6-foot-2 guard who averages 19.7 points and is third among active Division I players with 2,201 career points. That’s good enough to be the career leading scorer in Delaware history.

* Senior Davon Usher averages 19.4 points.

* Junior Jarvis Threatt scores 18.1.

* Junior Kyle Anderson contributes 11 points a game.

Combine that with Michigan State’s physical defense, and Izzo has some concerns.

“They do have some veteran guys, veteran guys that are able to score points,” Izzo said. “They can shoot 3s. They have a post presence. They got to the foul line a ton. That can change the game.

“I always say that upsets are by 3-point shooting, and now I think fouls and free throws have to be in there just because of the way it’s gone all year.”